CAREERS: How I Got Here - Simon Collings, chief executive, Resource Alliance

What was your first job? I was a paperboy at 14. I also worked in a bookshop on Saturdays and during the school holidays.

What does your current role involve? The Resource Alliance exists to build the fundraising capacity of civil society organisations around the world. As chief executive, I have to ensure there is an achievable plan of activity in place, that we have the staff and resources to carry out that plan and that it is delivered to budget.

Roughly outline your career path. After university, I worked for a publisher and joined the National Union of Journalists (NUJ). I served for six years as the executive of the NUJ, travelling to the Caribbean and North Africa on business. In 1986, I joined Oxfam in the publishing section as editor of Oxfam News. I moved jobs several times at Oxfam, managing communications, campaigning and other marketing functions until I became fundraising director in 1997. I started work as chief executive of the Resource Alliance this week.

What training or course has most enhanced your career?

In 2001, I attended an Executive Champions workshop led by Peter Senge, a very inspiring event which brought together a lot of the threads of my learning over many years.

What has been your greatest career achievement? Doubling Oxfam's voluntary income in the six years I was fundraising director. Helping introduce performance management at Oxfam, playing a small part in the creation of the Remember a Charity campaign and almost meeting Colonel Gaddafi.

What is your advice to people starting out in the sector? Don't wait for others to develop you. Actively seek out opportunities to acquire experience and skills. Fundraising is a very rewarding profession to be in with good career prospects, if you deliver results.

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